How I Switched to Part-Time, Part 2

At the time I started this blog post, I was still working full-time. Writing helps me figure things out, and I wanted to start with the end in mind, so I used this post to guide us through the switch. Hopefully it can help you as well.

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What We Cut

  • Tithe. When you earn less, you give less. It's as simple as that. It wasn't a dramatic savings for us, but it can be more significant if you're cutting 20 hours or staying home altogether. I will mention that we made a conscious decision to not cut our tithe altogether, even though it would appear to make budgeting a lot easier. (This is a deeply personal decision, and I'm just sharing what we choose to do. We have been blessed immensely since we starting tithing, and we are not about to stop.)
  • Day care. Rooney will be going to day care four days a week instead of five. Naturally, this saves us money (if I can stay away from Target on our days off). Part-time day care is sometimes more expensive per day, but we got lucky and that is not the case with our new gig. The cost is $31/day, which we believe to be a very fair price and it actually cheaper than what we were paying per day at our previous in-home day care. When you factor everything in, our total day care bill will go down $2,120/year! (Can you even believe that?) Full-time care was costing us $8,320 per year (one kid), and now we will pay $6,200. I have said multiple times that we loved the in-home day care we found in our neighborhood, and honestly the hardest part about me getting the new job was changing day cares. But I love being in the same building as her (I visit a couple times a day!), and I can't argue with the financial benefits.
  • Extras. We cut out a few things in preparation for this change. That means no more gym membership (we hardly used it anyway), pulling more than $7,000 from our emergency fund to pay off our second mortgage (to increase our monthly disposable income), and watching things even closer than we already do. We had already cut cable, but I imagine that would have been the next thing to go. We really don't miss any of those things. I told Eric I wanted to cut hours so bad that I would even give up my personal allowance, but he said that wasn't realistic. (Smart guy.)

What to Do Before Making the Leap

  • Pray for patience and opportunities. It may be hard to believe it, but this moment is exactly as it should be. I finally wrote that on a sticky note in my office to keep perspective. I believe we are where we are because God wants us there. I tried to remind myself over and over that his timing is perfect (he is never early or late), and that he can author our lives greater than we can.
  • Seek your true motivation for the change. Working full-time got so hard on me that I really wanted to quit. Just quit, without a plan. But I was running from something without knowing what it really was. I knew from maternity leave that staying at home all day wasn't my dream job, either, so quitting wouldn't have been the best solution. I also wasn't sure how my hormones were affecting my emotions, so even though it was hard, I'm glad we let things settle down a bit (five months) before making a change.
  • Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Come up with a clear job description of what you are to do when you are not at the office. What happens when your kids are old enough to go to school? Will you go back to work full-time? Who is in charge of the household chores? What will you be doing with your "time off"? I posted yesterday what we have decided for us.
  • Try it. While you have both incomes, try living on one (or one and a half) to see if you can make it work. This won't be entirely accurate (health insurance costs can change dramatically when you all go on the same plan, and you may move tax brackets when you make less income), but it can give you an idea of what your new budget will be like. Maybe you find that the financial stress it will cause is not worth it.

Parting Thoughts

  • We are currently working on Dave Ramsey's baby step #3 (completing our emergency fund). Being debt-free (no car payments, credit card debt or loans - just a modest mortgage) made this possible for us, and having $11,686 in emergency savings adds extra piece of mind. We will be throwing any extra money we have into that fund, in hopes of completing it (goal: $13,200) in a few months.
  • Ashley's post was extremely helpful for me to organize my thoughts around our new budget. Her and her husband are making it work on a teacher's salary, and she works a little from home. Like Ashley, for us it was an emotional decision that we made first, but financially we had to find a way to make it work.
  • Money Saving Mom is a great resource for deals and ideas on how to save money. Crystal is a Dave Ramsey follower as well.
  • If you don't think it's possible for you to cut hours, you might be surprised. I'm fascinated with the two-income trap idea that we design our lifestyles around two incomes when we could probably make it work on less.
  • I was worried financially that this wouldn't work, so my heart got really stingy with "our" money (I put that in quotes because we believe our money really belongs to God). I felt like we were hanging on to it so tightly that we weren't allowing him to bless us with it. Instead of hoard our money, we decided to sponsor a child. A month later, I had a job offer. We don't think this is a coincidence. I think it's amazing what he will do once our heart is in the right place.
  • The numbers do make sense for us on paper (finally! after running them over and over!), but it's tighter than before. In our hearts we made the decision and submitted ourselves to God's will. When I received my benefits package from my new job, I was amazed. We honestly have had to make less sacrifices than we originally thought because working 32 hours I will still receive benefits (the minimum was 35 hours at my previous job). My salary is lower because I am cutting hours (obviously), but the other benefits ($1 for health insurance! cheaper onsite day care!) make up for half of it.

If you are wanting to cut hours, I hope this helps a little bit! I know all situations are different, and I wish I could be more helpful. I just so I feel lucky and I honestly can't even explain how this happened for us except that God is good and has blessed us. Please ask questions if you have any!